The analytics advise a high likelihood that you’re aware it comes with an app named TikTok, and a similarly high likelihood that you’re not totally sure what it’s about. Perhaps you asked someone younger in your life, and they made an effort to explain and maybe failed. Or maybe you’ve heard that this new, extraordinarily popular video app is “a refreshing outlier in the social media marketing universe” that’s “genuinely fun to make use of.” Maybe you even used it, but bounced straight out, confused and sapped.
“Fear of missing out” is a very common way to describe how social media can make people feel like everybody else is part of something – a concert, a secret beach, a brunch – that they’re not. A whole new wrinkle in this concept is that sometimes that “something” is a social networking platform itself. You may saw a photo of some friends on Instagram in a great party and wondered why you weren’t there. Then again, next within your feed, you saw a weird video, watermarked using a vibrating TikTok logo, scored with a song you’d never heard, starring someone you’d never seen. You may saw one of many staggering number of ads for TikTok plastered throughout other social networking sites, and real life, and wondered why you weren’t in that party, either, and why it seemed to date away.
It’s been a while since a new social app got sufficient, quickly enough, to help make nonusers feel they’re losing out from an experience. Whenever we exclude Fortnite, which is very social but additionally greatly a game, the last time an app inspired such interest from individuals who weren’t into it was … maybe Snapchat? (Not just a coincidence that Snapchat’s audience skewed very young, too.)
And even though you, perhaps an anxious abstainer, may feel perfectly secure in your “choice” not to join that service, Snapchat has more daily users than Twitter, changed the path of its industry, and altered just how people contact their phones. TikTok, now reportedly 500 million users strong, will not be so obvious in their intentions. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t get them! Shall we?
The fundamental human explanation of TikTok. TikTok is surely an app to make and sharing short videos. The videos are tall, not square, like on Snapchat or Instagram’s stories, however you navigate through videos by scrolling up and down, like a feed, not by tapping or swiping sideways. Video creators have all kinds of tools at their disposal: filters as on Snapchat (and later, everyone else); the ability to hunt for sounds to score your video. Users will also be strongly asked to engage with other users, through “response” videos or by way of “duets” – users can duplicate videos and add themselves alongside.
Hashtags play a surprisingly large role on TikTok. In innocent times, Twitter hoped its users might congregate around hashtags in a never-ending number of productive pop-up mini-discourses. On TikTok, hashtags actually exist as a real, functional organizing principle: not for news, or even really anything trending anywhere else than TikTok, but for various “challenges,” or jokes, or repeating formats, or some other discernible blobs of activity.
TikTok is, however, a free-for-all. It’s easy to create a video on TikTok, not just as a result of tools it gives users, but because of extensive reasons and prompts it provides for you personally. You can pick from a tremendous range of sounds, from popular song clips to short moments from Television shows, YouTube videos or any other TikToks. You can join a dare-like challenge, or participate in a dance meme, or make a joke. Or you can make fun of all of these things.
TikTok assertively answers anyone’s what do i need to watch with a flood. In the same way, the app provides lots of answers for the paralyzing what should I post? The end result is surely an endless unspooling of material that folks, many very young, might be too self-conscious to share on Instagram, or that they never could have come up with to begin with with no nudge. It can be hard to watch. It can be charming. It can be very, very funny. It really is frequently, in the language widely applied outside the platform, from people on other platforms, extremely “cringe.”
TikTok can feel, with an American audience, a bit like a greatest hits compilation, featuring merely the most engaging elements and experiences of its predecessors. This is true, to some point. But TikTok – known as Douyin in China, where its parent company is situated – also must be understood as among the most popular of many short-video-sharing apps in that country. This can be a landscape that evolved both alongside and also at arm’s length from the American tech industry – Instagram, for instance, is banned in China.
Beneath the hood, TikTok is a fundamentally different app than American users have tried before. It may feel and look like its friend-feed-centric peers, and also you can follow and be followed; of course there are hugely popular “stars,” many cultivated by the company itself. There’s messaging. Users can and do use it like some other social app. Nevertheless the various aesthetic and esswmy similarities to Vine or Snapchat or Instagram belie a core difference: TikTok is a lot more machine than man. This way, it’s from the future – or at best a potential. And it has some messages for people.